The final outcome is a classic climate negotiation outcome. At the brink of negotiation collapse, COP17 comes up with a text that can arguably be seen as a solution but won’t really do anything.
The final deal decided to extend the Kyoto Protocol, but it will be little more than symbolic with mainly the EU participating (where the EU has already promised to cut carbon emissions 20% below 1990-levels) along with a few other, small countries like New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland.
The brokered deal decided to set up a legal structure for the Green Fund, but there is still no money.
Finally, and arguably the most important step was to bring in the big developing countries into possibly forging a legally binding treaty on cutting emissions by 2020. However, the final decision simply kicks the can far down the road, as there will be no decisions for the next 4-9 years. It begs credulity to believe that we could make all the big emitters cut their emissions when we have not even been able to get the rich world to do so the last twenty years.
In reality, the COP17 negotiations missed an important opportunity to change tracks. Instead of following the same path, that has failed since Rio in 1992 — prescribe large, immediate and implausible carbon cuts to unwilling nations — it should focus on the main problem. As long as green energy is much more expensive than fossil fuels it will always be impossible to get significant reductions. If we instead focused on innovating the green energy price down below fossil fuels. If we could achieve that, we would have solved global warming. Therefore we should rather spend 0.2% of GDP on research and development of green energy. This would be a massive increase of green R&D, have much greater long-term impact and yet much cheaper than any standard climate deal.